By Adam Hetrick
20 Mar 2012
The Gershwin and Heyward estates enlisted Tony-nominated Hair director Diane Paulus to help bring new context to Porgy and Bess for contemporary audiences. The four-hour opera now clocks in as a two-and-a-half-hour musical; much of the recitative is now spoken dialogue.
The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess began Broadway previews Dec. 17, 2011, and officially opened Jan. 12 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. It extended its limited Broadway run through September.
Casting for the tour will be announced at a later date. The Broadway production stars Norm Lewis (Sondheim on Sondheim, Side Show, Les Miserables) as Porgy opposite four-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald (Ragtime, Marie Christine, Master Class) as Bess.
To reinvigorate the characters and bolster the dramatic impact of the story, Paulus brought on board Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog, Book of Grace), who is credited with adaptation and additional scenes, and Pulitzer Prize nominee Diedre Murray (Running Man), credited with musical adaptation.
This production first premiered at the American Repertory Theater last summer.
The creative team includes choreographer Ronald K. Brown, set designer Riccardo Hernandez, costume designer Emilio Sosa and Tony Award-winning lighting designer Christopher Akerlind. Acme Sound Partners design sound. Orchestrations are by William David Brohn and Christopher Jahnke, with music supervision by David Loud.
According to the producers, Porgy and Bess "is set in Charleston’s fabled Catfish Row, where the beautiful Bess struggles to break free from her scandalous past, and the only one who can rescue her is the crippled but courageous Porgy. Threatened by her formidable former lover Crown, and the seductive enticements of the colorful troublemaker Sporting Life, Porgy and Bess’ relationship evolves into a deep romance that triumphs as one of theater’s most exhilarating love stories."
The work includes such songs as "Bess, You Is My Woman Now," "I Loves You, Porgy," "My Man's Gone Now," "There's a Boat That's Leavin' Soon for New York," "Summertime," "I Got Plenty o' Nothin'" and "It Ain't Necessarily So."
It is produced on Broadway by Broadway by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Rebecca Gold, Howard Kagan, Cheryl Wiesenfeld/Brunish Trinchero/Lucio Simons TBC, Joseph and Matthew Deitch, Mark S. Golub & David S. Golub, Terry Schnuck, Freitag Productions/Koenigsberg Filerman, The Leonore S. Gershwin 1987 Trust, Universal Pictures Stage Productions, Ken Mahoney, Judith Resnick, Tulchin/Bartner/ATG, Paper Boy Productions, Alden Badway, Broadway Across America, Christopher Hart, Irene Gandy and Will Trice.